SET High Raises the Bar for Exceptional Students: An Interview with Austin Strahm

A 12th grade student at the School for Entrepreneurship and Technology (SET High), a tuition-free charter high school in San Diego, poses in front of  microwaves in the cafeteria as part of a student-led initiative. 

SET High Raises the Bar for Exceptional Students: An Interview with Austin Strahm

“SET is a small community with teachers that care about you and pour their heart and souls into you”.  – Austin Strahm, SET High student 

Why Choose SET High? 

When Austin Strahm’s local high school felt too big and impersonal, he sought out a different high school experience while finishing 8th grade.  He looked at private schools and other charter schools but after a visit to the School for Entrepreneurship and Technology (SET), he was sold. SET High is a tuition-free WASC-Accredited California Distinguished School in San Diego.

Austin loves:

  • how engaging SET teachers are 
  • how integrated independent research is 
  • that you can skip ahead to your appropriate level in math as there is no academic  “ceiling”
  • free Mesa College credits
  • how connected he feels with his classmates and school staff 


At SET, Austin has  designed his own learning journey. Inspired by his classes with Mr. Montello, our Engineering and Robotics teacher, Austin will pursue further study in nuclear energy after graduation. Taking physics and adding engineering will make an impact in the world and this is something Austin feels good about doing. We wholeheartedly agree! 

Austin also gives Mr. P (Putaro) a shout-out for his high school math success and enthusiasm for the subject. Austin took Algebra II, Pre-Calculus and Calculus with Mr P in 9th and 10th grade! 

In 11th and 12th grade, he continued to excel in math by taking Analytical Geometry and Calculus I, II, III at Mesa College. SET High recognizes and encourages students to follow their passion and academic interests. 

SET Senate

“Looking for new extracurricular opportunities, Dr. McCurdy (founder & principal) mentioned the concept of a SET Senate and I took it and ran with it,” says Austin of a new informal “government” he organized at our small school. 

Fifteen pages of rules and guidelines later, Austin advertised his ideas and nine students joined him to form a senate. The senators solicit ideas from students and then convene to debate what they want to propose to our administration. 

Any wins yet? Yes, let’s just say that adding more microwaves, tables and an electric tea kettle in the cafeteria has greatly improved the long lines at lunch. Austin is confident that SET Senate will continue after he is gone – after all, there’s always something students want!

Make the Most of High School

Austin is a great example of our mission at tuition-free SET High in preparing students to thrive both personally and professionally in an increasingly global, technology-driven society. He also embodies our idea of a compassionate and positive mindset. Here is just a sample of how he has made the most of his high school years:

  • Cross Country and Track team (which he leads now): competes in the 4×4 relay and 100, 200 and 400 meter sprint running events. 
  • Code Breakers Club: Inspired by SET High’s computer science class, Austin started and leads the club every week and combines it with his love of cryptography (creating codes). He says starting a club is easy at SET- if you have a strong interest that other students want to join, you can promote it and make it happen. Innovation happens here!
  • SAT Prep Club: Austin found that tutoring was a super impactful process but not always affordable…so he found other students who wanted help and shared what he knew…which led to a 100+ point increase for students in the club! This led to…
  • College Essay Planning Club: Geared toward sophomores and juniors who need some help organizing their thoughts and stories on paper.

Ready to get SETUP for academic success in an environment where passion fuels learning. Join us at SET High. We’re always looking to influence the next generation of innovators, dreamers, and positive changemakers. Enrolling now!

About SET High 

SET High offers each student individual attention from multi-talented, highly qualified  teachers. Students build a healthy camaraderie with classmates inside an intellectually rigorous environment that brings out their talents and personality, helping them develop their individual character and direction in life. With a wide variety of electives, flexible scheduling, dual enrollment college classes and more — our students regularly exceed their academic and personal expectations. Enrolling now!